Monday, March 23, 2009
Do not allow rejection
Editors and agents get submissions up in the 4 digits each year and they know they will only be able to take a handfull. Common sense says that most things they look at they will reject. They have to.
Most will begin reading a submission looking for the point where it is clear the one they are looking at will not work for them, or is not ready to be published, or the formatting and editing make it not ready to go. Whatever the reason, basically the author took themselves out of consideration at this point.
I think an author does a better job when they go into the process knowing the person they are submitting to is looking for that reason to reject and simply does not allow it. They hook the editor with the opening line of the query or cover letter and cause it to be read. If this letter somehow conveys the fact that this is something the person doesn't handle it can be over right there.
The 'elevator pitch' contained in the letter causes the person to want to go down into the proposal and find out more. The proposal answers all of the questions posed in the submission guidelines for this particular person and the synopsis and the sample writing intrigues them enough that they want to see the full manuscript. The full manuscript is submitted and the agent or editor has no choice but to read the whole thing because you pull them in and keep them in the story all the way to the end.
You see, it isn't that person's job to like your submission. It's your job to make them like it. They are looking for that decision point that tells them it won't work and on most of them it'll be there to find. The people who publish quite simply do not give that person evaluating their project a reason to reject it. Most writers feel they are casting their fate into the capricious hands of editors and agents, when in reality the fate of their project is in their own hands the whole time.
Of course, there is that point where a number have made it all the way through and are being seriously considered. Maybe there are a dozen in consideration for a single slot or two. Now it's about who connects best with the caliber of the story and writing. But that's the level you want to be on when the decision is made, right?